Other Name: Anna Patricia Ethel Valentine Baker
– Beryl Hutchinson and Roz Hermant,
World of Fantasy: The Life and Art of Anna P. Baker
Anna P. Baker was born in London, Ontario in June 1928 and was adopted by Alfred Burrows Baker and his wife Mabel Roberta Pearl Kelly.
During both elementary school and high school, Baker was skilled in athletics, academics, and music, in addition to art. Baker graduated from Western University in 1950, but began to develop her artistic style and abilities when she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1951, where she earned a both a BA and MFA.
In 1955, Baker moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio to teach. Here she met fellow teacher Dorothy “Bunny” Hastings. It was with her friend Bunny that Baker set out to visit Boston in 1958, and, stopping on the way to visit Bunny’s home in Barton, Vermont where she ultimately decided to live. Baker and Bunny also lived in Fowey, Cornwall, England for a nearly year between 1960 and 1961, during which time Baker exhibited her work in neighboring St. Austell. In 1960, Baker sold what would be her first design for Christmas wrapping paper; she would also later design fabric.
Over the years, Baker’s work would be shown in exhibitions in both Canada and the United States, including, but not limited to, London, Ontario; Toronto; Chicago; Philadelphia; Cincinnati, Ohio; Washington, D.C., Birmingham, Alabama; Norfolk, Virginia; New York; and Los Angeles. In 1968, her alma mater, Western University, exhibited 70 works by Baker in its Alumni Association’s first solo art show.
In addition to her art practice, Baker was an illustrator for The Barton Chronicle. Her humorous cartoons of two Holstein cows became so well-loved that the newspaper published an annual calendar featuring the cartoons from 1980 until 1986.
During her high school years, Baker did not limit her skills or interests to art, but engaged with music, sports, journalism, literature, biology, and more. When she began to teach, it was clear to her students that Baker believed that all fields of study were and could be integrated with each other.
Baker’s fascination with interdisciplinary practices came through in much of her artwork, integrating themes from literature, history, and theatre. After a visit to the Stratford Festival in Ontario in the late 1960s, for example, Baker created a series of paintings inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. In 1973, Baker opened an exhibition in London, Ontario, focusing on the ghostly figure of Ambrose Small who supposedly haunted the local Grand Theatre. Baker also completed two series of paintings inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Cranford, reflecting her love of literature. Baker’s interest in plants and animals was also apparent in her artwork.
Anna P. Baker’s art was an expression of all her passions, a far-reaching network of interests that continue to engage her admirers to this day.
Although she lived most of her life in the United States, Baker remained a Canadian citizen.
Anna P. Baker passed away in 1985 in Kingston, Ontario.
Biography by Natalka Duncan and Luvneet K. Rana
“Anna P. Baker: Artist Extraordinaire.” Accessed June 1, 2018. http://www.annabaker.net/.
Crawford, Lenore. “Anna Baker one-man art show is ‘stunningly successful.’”
The London Free Press, April 9, 1968.
Hutchinson, Beryl and Roz Hermant. World of Fantasy: The Life and Art of Anna P. Baker.
Braithwaite, Chris. “Barton Loses Artist and Friend.” The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont), March 6, 1985.
Crawford, Lenore. “Anna Baker – Londoner with ‘name’ in art world.” London Free Press,
October 25, 1975.
Dunbar, Bethany M. “Anna Baker was a Brilliant Artist with a Comic Touch.” The Barton Chronicle (September 14, 2012). Accessed May 28, 2018. https://bartonchronicle.com/anna-baker-was-a-brilliant-artist-with-a-comic-touch/.
Click here for information about works by Anna P. Baker
in McIntosh Gallery’s collection.